Freddie Hubbard - trumpet; Junior Cook - tenor sax; Harold Mabern - piano; Wayne Dockery - bass; Louis Hayes - drums
In his first-ever appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard brought in his working quintet comprised of tenor saxophonist and former Horace Silver sideman Junior Cook, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Wayne Dockery, and drummer Louis Hayes, a veteran of the Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley quintets as well as the Oscar Peterson trio. A prodigious player whose star was still in its ascendancy by the time he played at the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival (he had already played on important recordings by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, Max Roach, and Oliver Nelson, served in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1961-1964 and released a string of stellar Blue Note albums as a leader), Hubbard wowed the crowd at Freebody Park with his peerless chops and audacious swagger.
Hubbard and his crew open on serene note with the poignant Sammy Cahn-Jule Styne ballad "The Things We Did Last Summer," which is underscored by Hayes' deft brushwork. The trumpeter delivers some technically dazzling solo passages here, executed with effortless mastery and a golden tone, while also revealing his more lyrical side on this engaging number. Things heat up considerably on the next track, a burning rendition of "Hub-Tones," title track of the trumpeter's 1962 Blue Note album. Cook unleashes on this frantic hard bop vehicle with abandon while Hubbard unleashes an aggressive attack and harsher tones on his audacious solo here. This up-tempo cooker, fueled by Hayes' kinetic drumming and Dockery's unerring upright bass pulse, also features a harmonic probing solo by pianist Harold Mabern that reflects the modal experiments of McCoy Tyner with the classic John Coltrane quartet. Dockery and Hayes also get respective unaccompanied solo tastes on this exhilarating set-closer. (And check Hubbard's tongue-in-cheek quote from "Up We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder" during his fiery exchanges with Hayes near the end of this incendiary piece).
Following his dynamic performance at Newport, Hubbard would sign with Creed Taylor's CTI label and in January, 1970 record his best-selling crossover jazz album, Red Clay. An artistic and commercial triumph, it was a turning point in Hubbard's illustrious and lengthy career.
Born on April 7, 1938 in Indianapolis, Indiana, worked locally as a teenager with brothers Wes and Monk Montgomery. In 1958, at the age of 20, he moved to New York and immersed himself on the scene, gigging with the likes of Philly Joe Jones, Sonny Rollins, Slide Hampton, Eric Dolphy, J. J. Johnson, and Quincy Jones. He made his first record as a leader, Open Sesame, in June, 1960 and in December of that year appeared on Ornette Coleman's groundbreaking Free Jazz.
The following year, Hubbard played on John Coltrane's Africa/Brass and Olé Coltrane sessions and also released his third and fourth Blue Note recordings as a leader, Hub Cap and Ready for Freddie. Later in 1961, he replaced trumpeter Lee Morgan in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, playing on the group's classic Mosaic that year. Hubbard subsequently played on several Blakey recordings during his tenure with the Jazz Messengers, including Caravan, Ugetsu and Free For All.
Hubbard scored commercial successes through the 1970s with CTI, also winning a Grammy Award for 1972's First Light. In 1977, he joined the VSOP Quintet alongside Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, and Wayne Shorter, members of the mid-'60s Miles Davis Quintet. They released four live albums documenting their chemistry on that classic Miles material.
Hubbard led his own hard bop flavored groups through the '80s, then suffered a career setback in 1992 when he suffered a serious lip injury (his upper lip ruptured and developed an infection which compromised his sterling chops).
He made a comeback in 2001 with New Colors, backed by the New Jazz Composers Octet and in 2006 received a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was once again paired with the New Jazz Composers Octet on 2008's On the Real Side and died on December 29 of that year (at age 70) from complications from a heart attack.
Hubbard's sad decline toward the end of his career was well documented. As he told Bill Milkowski for the liner notes to On the Real Side: "It's really something when you lose your chops like that. You feel like a motherless child." But at the peak of his powers, as he was on this July 3rd night at the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival, no trumpeter on the planet played longer, higher and faster than the great Freddie Hubbard. (Milkowski)